Amazon’s Unregretted Attrition System: How Politics Can Impact Performance
Amazon is known for its innovative and customer-focused business practices, but a former employee has revealed that the company’s management system may be driven more by politics than performance. The ex-manager claims that Amazon’s senior leaders are given “unregretted attrition” (URA) numbers — the percentage of employees that managers are not sad to see leave the company, whether voluntarily or otherwise.
During the annual-review process, managers would fill out information sheets for each employee. But the ex-manager claims that senior leaders were so focused on meeting their URA goals that they would quickly try to force employees into a stack ranking of who was high-performing, who was middle-performing, and who was least-effective — regardless of their actual performance.
The ex-manager described how he had to push back and provide evidence for why one of his employees didn’t deserve the lowest performance score. He claimed that within a month of this exchange, he was told he was on Amazon’s performance-improvement program. He believes that he was put under a microscope for fighting against an unfair performance-management system.
The ex-manager said that Amazon’s performance-management system felt backward to him. He questioned the business benefit of burning people and said it made him feel untrustworthy and disingenuous. He believes that the system is unfair, as it can lead to high-performing employees being thrown into the “least-effective” bucket and not given any feedback on how to improve.
An Amazon spokesperson responded to Insider’s request for comment, saying that it is impossible to verify the details of this essay since it is from an anonymous source. While they acknowledged that Amazon has performance expectations for people on the team, they said most aspects of the essay do not reflect the intent or reality of the evaluation process.